Open container laws act as a way for the state to maintain the quality of life for their residents, prevent public drunken and disorderly behaviors, and try to reduce the number of vehicular accidents caused by drunk drivers and passengers. Several South Carolina statutes outline the state’s open container laws. For example, it is illegal to possess an open container of beer or wine in any motor vehicle driving upon public highways or highway right of ways, unless the container is located in the trunk or luggage compartment of the vehicle. However, it is legal for a person age 21 or older to transport a closed container of alcohol, or an open container that is carried in the trunk or luggage compartment of the vehicle. These laws apply to alcoholic beverages, regardless of the percentage of alcohol per volume the beverage contains.
Because of miscommunications and complicated circumstances, it is common for people to face open container charges they are not guilty of committing. Having an experienced Columbia DUI lawyer on your side could prove useful in combating these allegations, reducing consequences, or even getting the charges dropped completely. At Truslow & Truslow, we have experience defending open container cases, and we are dedicated to building a strong legal plan on behalf of our clients.
Why Choose Truslow & Truslow to Represent Me?
The father-son team of Truslow & Truslow has been serving the South Carolina community for close to ten years now. Douglas N. Truslow has over 40 years of experience on his own, and his time managing the Major Crimes Unit as Assistant Solicitor has given him the perspective you need as a citizen accused of a crime. He’s defended many people, from professional athletes and business owners to the everyday citizens of South Carolina. His son, Neal D. Truslow, joined him after completing his degree in 2009, having focused on litigation. With their combined 60+ years of experience and satisfied clients across the state, Truslow & Truslow have firmly established them as a go-to firm for people who are charged with a crime in South Carolina.
Contact a Columbia DUI Lawyer
If you or a loved one was ticketed for an open container charge, contact a qualified Columbia open container charge attorney. At Truslow & Truslow, we know how frustrating it can be to have a ticket of this kind on your record inhibiting you financially.
Our attorneys can guide you through the complicated legal process and fight for justice in the courtroom. Contact our office at (803) 590-6688 to discuss the details of your case.
Open Container Violation Penalties
An open container conviction carries with it some serious penalties and repercussions. If an officer pulls you over and sees what they claim is an open container, the ensuing consequences could include the following:
- Suspicion of drunk driving
- Sobriety tests
- Vehicle search
- A misdemeanor conviction
- Fines up to $100
- Up to 30 days in jail
It is also important to highlight that that these laws make it illegal for passengers to have open containers. If a passenger is sipping or even holding an open alcoholic beverage, it could mean problems for both the passenger and the driver. Imagine you are going out for a night of fun with your friends. You agree to be the designated driver to ensure everyone gets home safe. You are aware of the open container laws in South Carolina, but a backseat passenger is not, and they open a beer to start drinking without you noticing. If you are pulled over, you as the driver with an open container in the vehicle could be ticketed with an open container violation.
If you’ve never been accused of a crime before, especially one like an open container violation, you likely have many questions about your rights and legal options. For your convenience, we’ve provided a few answers to some frequently asked questions below. Be sure to contact a member of our team to schedule a confidential consultation if you have been charged with driving with an open container so that we can get started on your case today. Contact us at (803) 590-6688 now.
What Is Considered an Open Container in South Carolina?
In the state of South Carolina, a container of alcohol is considered open when the original seal or cap has been opened or broken. If the bottles of alcohol are in a box, and that box is opened, for example, the law has not been broken, regardless of where the box is in the car. If the legal seal has been broken on the bottle of alcohol, you’d be allowed to transport it in the trunk or a separate trailer. You would not have to be carrying the containers in a completely inaccessible space, so long as it is distinctly separate from the cabin of the vehicle. If you are driving a taxi, Lyft, Uber, or similar rideshare service, it is illegal to transport an open container of alcohol for personal purposes, but if a passenger has an open container of alcohol on their person or in their luggage that you were not aware of, it is likely that you will not be charged, but they may be charged.
What Is the Cost of Violating Open Container Laws?
In South Carolina, you may be ticketed or may face more serious consequences. Some common consequences include:
- A fine of at most $100
- Jail time exceeding no more than a month
- Passengers of rideshare services face charges at six times the previously mentioned rates, for first-time offenses
An experienced attorney may be able to help you get the charges dropped or reduced, so make sure to contact a team that has experience handling cases like these today.